BOSTON, MA – There was a lot of pride in Boston’s TD Garden on Saturday after the events of the last week; but Penguins assistant to the general manager and Massachusetts native Tom Fitzgerald had a little extra this afternoon.
|Ryan Fitzgerald receives the John Carlton Award from Peter Chiarelli|
That’s because he got the chance to watch his son, Ryan, accept the prestigious John Carlton Award on the ice from Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli during the second intermission of the Pittsburgh-Boston game.
Named after the late Bruins scout and administrator who passed away in 1982, the John Carlton Award is given annually by the Boston Bruins to an outstanding male and female student-athlete in an Eastern Massachusetts high school or junior hockey. The award is given to the high school seniors who combine exceptional hockey skills with academic excellence.
Ryan is a current Valley Junior Warriors center, scoring 17 goals and 36 points in 32 games this season – his first in the Eastern Junior Hockey League after producing three standout seasons with Malden Catholic.
“I think it’s a big honor in this area to receive that award,” Tom Fitzgerald said. “In Minnesota high school hockey, it’s the Mr. Hockey award, and here in Massachusetts, it’s the John Carlton Award. It’s a pretty big deal for a high school athlete and hockey player.
“It’s just a good way to end his high school career. He had opportunities to leave the area to go play, but hockey is hockey. If you’re a hockey player, you’re a hockey player. For him to finish his high school career slash junior career this way, it’s quite an honor.”
Ryan, who was named MVP of the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in September, is listed at No. 46 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of the top 2013 draft-eligible players. He said spending this season with older players in juniors helped him develop his physicality.
“I kind of felt like being a freshman again and was getting pushed around a little, so I kind of regrew that grit I had,” he said.
Ryan agreed with his father about the significance of his award, saying this was the perfect way to cap his high school and junior career before heading off to play at perennial powerhouse Boston College in the fall.
“This year was a big year for me,” he said. “The stars have kind of aligned for me. This is just icing on the cake.
“Looking at the names that have received this award in the past, it’s a pretty elite class to be in in New England. So it’s definitely a huge honor.”
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